Living with your Catheter


How long will my catheter stay in?

  • Until you no longer need hemodialysis, or until you get a fistula or graft

Your catheter will stay in as long as you need it for hemodialysis, or until you get a fistula or graft. If you do get a fistula or graft, your catheter will be removed after needles are used successfully for hemodialysis.


If I start with a catheter, will I ever be able to have a fistula or graft?

  • It’s possible depending on the health of your blood vessels

Your healthcare team will encourage you to visit the surgeon periodically to see if a fistula or graft is right for you. To increase your chances for a fistula, you should protect your arm veins by asking your healthcare provider to use the backs of your hands for blood draws, or administering intravenous drugs or fluids.


Can I take a shower with a catheter?

  • You can shower, but keep your dressing dry
  • Ask the dialysis staff about a protection device

Yes, but keep the dressing over the exit site dry to help prevent infection. Ask your dialysis staff about a protection device to keep the dressing dry when you’re in the shower.



Preventing Infection


Why is infection such a risk, and what can I do to prevent it?

  • Signs of infection include fever and redness
  • If untreated, it can develop into a serious problem
  • To help prevent it, keep exit site clean and dry

There’s a chance that an infection can start where the catheter enters your body or in your blood. If that happens, you could get very sick and require hospitalization. The good news is that there is one simple but important thing you can do to help prevent infection: make sure the exit site and dressing are kept clean and dry.


What will the dialysis staff do to prevent infection?

  • Carefully wash their hands
  • Wear clean gloves
  • Clean the catheter connecting area
  • Clean the skin
  • Use a “no touch” technique with equipment that will touch your blood
  • Place a new dressing

The staff will take many steps to prevent infection during your treatments. For example, when your catheter’s caps are off or the dressing is being changed, the staff will make sure that you and people near you wear masks. Also, at every visit they’ll clean the skin around the exit site and apply a new dressing.





Do catheter problems ever occur?

  • Catheter problems can occur—read this section to learn the signs of a potential problem
  • When in doubt, call your doctor and/or dialysis staff

Your Arrow catheter is designed to perform safely and effectively. However, it’s very important that you know about potential catheter problems, and what to do if they occur. If you ever notice anything unusual with your catheter, call your doctor or the dialysis staff immediately.


What if my catheter isn’t working well at dialysis?

  • A blood clot could be affecting flow
  • Dialysis staff will use medicine to dissolve the clot

Your dialysis staff pays close attention to how well the blood flows during your treatments. If blood doesn’t flow to the dialysis machine at the right speed, your blood may not be cleaned as well as it should be. A blood clot on or in the catheter can slow down the flow. If this happens, the dialysis staff will insert a drug into the catheter to help dissolve the clot. This drug may not work over a long period of time. If that happens, your catheter may have to be changed and a new one placed into the same or a different vein.


What if my catheter starts to come out?

  • Tape the catheter in place
  • DO NOT pull the catheter out
  • DO NOT push the catheter in
  • Call your doctor and/or dialysis unit

Tape the catheter in place to prevent any more movement. Then contact your dialysis unit as soon as possible for instructions. DO NOT pull the catheter all the way out or try to push it back in.


What if my catheter pulls out completely?

  • Apply pressure immediately
  • Seek immediate medical attention

If your catheter comes out completely, this requires prompt medical attention. You should apply pressure to the area immediately to prevent bleeding. SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION